Pet or livestock? Chesterfield family awaits decision on pig - WSFX - FOX Wilmington, NC

Pet or livestock? Chesterfield family awaits decision on pig

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CHESTERFIELD, VA (WWBT) -

Chesterfield officials say a family's beloved pet pig has got to go, because it is considered livestock and doesn't belong in a home, according to zoning laws.

Right away, you can tell Tucker is no ordinary pet. Tucker is a 150-pound Kunekune pig, native to New Zealand. He walks on a leash, obeys commands, squeals for treats, and snuggles up with his family, the Johnsons, on the couch.

Mark Johnson says Tucker is docile and friendly. Tucker has free reign of the house, when not sleeping in his kennel or pig pen. 

"(Tucker) hangs out with the family, whether it be watching television, or outside playing with the kids. He just likes to be with the family at all times," Johnson said.

The Johnsons adopted Tucker since Kim, Mark's wife, is allergic to dogs. A year-and-a-half later, the couple says Tucker is like a third son.

However, last month, county officials sent the Johnsons a letter after getting a complaint from a neighbor. The Johnsons say administrators told them they had ten days to get rid of Tucker, since he's considered livestock belonging on a farm.

"Just not possible," Kim Johnson said, that her "third son" would not be removed.

The Johnsons are now trying to get the Chesterfield County Board of Supervisors to approve a special permit for Tucker. Mark says it's a long and costly process, involving public hearings.

"I don't think that's right to us as a family. It's not right to our neighborhood either because [Tucker] has become part of the community," he said.

Neighbors, especially kids, appear more than happy to play with a pet pig. The family says Tucker visits children at the bus stop and at cookouts. 

Even though the Johnson family might spend hundreds of dollars in going through the process of trying to save Tucker, it doesn't mean the Board of Supervisors will vote to let him stay.

Susan Pollard, a spokesperson with the county, wrote in a statement, "The Planning Department is working with the family as they pursue the application for a conditional use permit."

The county is also allowing Tucker to stay with his family throughout the process. If the Board of Supervisors decides not to allow Tucker to stay, the Johnson's might not either.

"We'd probably look at moving out of the county," said Mark.

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